Skip to main content

Mechanics-poor Jackson in need of a tuneup

I still like the Minnesota Vikings' chances of reaching the postseason and perhaps even making it past the wild-card round. But I'd like them more if I didn't see Tarvaris Jackson look as sloppy as he did with the football on Monday night.

I am willing to cut him plenty of slack because of his inexperience. Still, it is too late in the season for him to be making as many poor decisions as he did against the Bears and to be repeatedly showing improper mechanics. By throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble in his team's 20-13 win over Chicago, Jackson did enough to cost the Vikings the game, which was a radical departure from the way he had been playing through most of Minnesota's five-game winning streak.

He should take a good, long look at this videotape and thoroughly recognize that he cannot afford to have another such game in the weeks ahead.

Viking opponents figured out long ago that crowding the line of scrimmage is the best way of dealing with rookie sensation Adrian Peterson. It worked well for San Francisco in Week 14, and the Bears did a fairly good job with it as well on Monday night. The primary reason is that, in daring Jackson to throw, the Bears wound up forcing turnovers. However, it should be a concern to the Vikings that when an opponent loads up to stop Peterson, it can succeed.

Other Monday night takes

» Kyle Orton gives the Bears some hope for the future. It's hard to say if he solves their biggest problem, quarterback, but he showed that he is deserving of a chance to be the starter next season. He steadily gained confidence against the Vikings and, until a late interception, did a good job of taking care of the ball.

» Devin Hester needs the ball in his hands as often as possible. The Bears' offensive strategists must continue to develop ways to have him involved in the scheme, especially with most opponents continuing to try and keep the ball away from him on returns.

Weather or not

I've been to my share of games played in extreme cold and heavy snow, but I have never seen anything quite like what I witnessed during the Cleveland Browns' 8-0 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

The score is a clear reflection of the type of day it was: Not conducive for much scoring, or a whole lot else related to football activity. I give both teams, and especially the Browns, a tremendous amount of credit for making the plays they were able to make. The conditions were brutal. Just walking in and around Cleveland Browns Stadium was an adventure. Ice pellets felt like tiny spikes hitting eyes as I walked inside. I'm no lightweight, and the 43 mph gusts off of Lake Erie caused me to slide backward as I made my way to my car after the game.

But I don't buy the widespread lament around Buffalo that the weather might actually have been a larger factor than the Browns in eliminating the Bills from the playoffs because two of their most important players, California-born rookies Trent Edwards and Marshawn Lynch, weren't able to handle it. The conditions weren't any more favorable to the Browns, who were simply the better team and proved it.

Turning up the heat

After failing to generate a single sack in back-to-back games against Dallas and Oakland, the Packers were determined to have a more effective pass rush against the St. Louis Rams.

With Marc Bulger playing behind an injury-ravaged offensive line, Packers defensive coordinator Bob Sanders picked a perfect time to unleash a variety of blitzes that resulted in four sacks. It had not been Sanders' style to do much blitzing, which was consistent with the approach of previous Packers defensive coordinator Jim Bates, who worked with Sanders in Green Bay and Miami.

Green Bay had pretty much relied on its defensive line, led by Pro Bowl end Aaron Kampman (team-leading 12 sacks), to produce pressure. But Sanders sent linebackers and defensive backs after Bulger, which in turn sent a message to future Packers opponents, especially those that they might meet in the playoffs: "We have more than one way to turn up the heat."

All charged up

Speaking of turning up the heat, how about those San Diego Chargers? There are several reasons for their four-game winning streak, including some big performances from running back LaDainian Tomlinson. But their defense also merits plenty of recognition.

Even with their best defensive player, linebacker Shawne Merriman, out with a knee injury, the Chargers piled up six turnovers in their 51-14 victory on Sunday over the Detroit Lions. That gives them a league-leading 35 takeaways for the season.

It took a little while, but the transition from former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to current defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell is finally smoothing out.

Buy the book

Looking for a last-minute gift idea? Here's an ideal book suggestion: "Dan Rooney: My 75 years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL," as told to Andrew E. Masich and David F. Halaas.

Although the book's greatest appeal is to the residents of a place called "Steelers Nation," all football fans will enjoy reading about the rich history of one of the league's premiere franchises and the life story of one of the most influential figures in the game.

Rooney offers fascinating stories and insights about his countless relationships with coaches, players, fellow owners, NFL commissioners, and the media. He also talks about growing up on Pittsburgh's rough-and-tumble North Side, competing with Johnny Unitas for top high school quarterback honors in Western Pennsylvania, and learning the ropes of running a major sports franchise from his father and mentor, Art ("The Chief") Rooney.

As Commissioner Roger Goodell points out in the preface: "The story of Dan Rooney is the story of the National Football League."

Have a question for Vic on anything NFL related? Don't just sit there -- send it to, and the best questions will be answered throughout the season right here on!

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.